Daniel 12:2 reads,
“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.
The assumption here made by those who hold to an ongoing conscious torture view is that because the wicked are said to be raised to everlasting contempt, then this must clearly mean the wicked are tormented forever. But let’s look at this word contempt. You know where else we can read about it? Isaiah 66. Check it out:
15 For behold, the LORD will come in fire
And His chariots like the whirlwind,
To render His anger with fury,
And His rebuke with flames of fire.
16 For the LORD will execute judgment by fire
And by His sword on all flesh,
And those slain by the LORD will be many.
24 “Then they will go forth and look
On the corpses of the men
Who have transgressed against Me.
For their worm will not die
And their fire will not be quenched;
And they will be an abhorrence to all mankind.”
The word “contempt” in Daniel 12:2 is the same exact word for “abhorrence” in Isaiah 66:24. In the case of Isaiah 66, the source of the contempt or abhorrence is NOT the wicked, it is those who weren’t killed who find them to be an abhorrence.
“…And they (the corpses of men who have transgressed against Me) will be an abhorrence to all mankind.”
Think of the way we might view Hitler, a man whose deeds and shame have followed him to the grave. And he is contemptuous and an abhorrence to almost anyone who knows about him, unless they are a skin head or Klan member. Even when I held to the ongoing conscious torment view, I never thought Daniel 12:2 was explicitly teaching ongoing post judgment pain. I thought it was contempt or abhorrence from God’s point of view.
This brings me to another term we see coupled with UNQUENCHABLE FIRE, found in Isaiah 66, and we read about it in Mark chapter 9. Starting in verse 47:
47 “If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell,
48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
The phrase I want to place focus on now is this “Worm” that “does not die.” The assumption made here by traditionalists is that this worm will live forever and can never die since it will be eating immortal people alive. Although it doesn’t say the worm can never die, only that it does not die, that is still the assumption. This assumption is actually kind of silly. I often thought of this verse when I was a traditionalist and tried to figure out exactly what was going to happen. Is the person’s body going to keep growing like a crab may regrow a limb? It sounds silly, but what are we to think? Unfortunately, I hadn’t done what I ought to have done – that is, look at what the Bible says about it. Jesus is quoting Isaiah chapter 66, and that’s all he does. Beginning in verse 16 –
16 For the LORD will execute judgment by fire And by His sword on all flesh, And those slain by the LORD will be many.
17 “Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go to the gardens, Following one in the center, Who eat swine’s flesh, detestable things and mice, Will come to an end altogether,” declares the LORD.
24 “Then they will go forth and look On the corpses of the men Who have transgressed against Me. For their worm will not die And their fire will not be quenched; And they will be an abhorrence to all mankind.”
Isaiah 66:16-17, 24
This scene depicts God’s judgment by fire that will slay a people (verse 16). They will “come to an end altogether” (verse 17). These will be corpses who had transgressed against God. It is corpses that the worms are eating. Not living people. An argument may arise from this saying that my position doesn’t allow Jesus to give a fuller meaning to the Old Testament Scriptures. I’m totally down for Jesus doing that, but He doesn’t do that in Mark chapter 9. He just quotes Isaiah 66. That’s it. We have no reason to believe from what He says that anything more is depicted. I don’t necessarily believe the end will be EXACTLY the way Isaiah depicts it. Isaiah is using prophetic language after all, but we can still gather clear information from it. God will destroy His enemies.